Passing Bolley’s Famous Franks on College Avenue in Waterville the other day, I got to thinking about french fries and the first time I ever tried them with vinegar.

It was about 55 years ago on a cold, snowy night at Eaton Mountain in Skowhegan.

I was perched at the wooden counter in the snack shack and had just been delivered my paper tray of fries. I was about to indulge when I eyed a vinegar dispenser sitting there next to the salt and pepper.

“What’s that for?” I asked.

The short-order cook demonstrated how to lightly drench my fries in vinegar after salting them.

It was a treat like nothing I’d ever experienced, though I loved vinegar and olive oil dressing on salad and mustard pickles from my mother’s pantry which were drowned in vinegar.

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After that first taste of vinegar with fries, it became a habit each time I visited Eaton Mountain.

We skied just about every night at the mountain during the winters of my childhood, the lights illuminating the trails as we sailed down the slopes again and again.

Sometimes it was bitterly cold and windy; other nights milder, but I don’t remember ever being deterred by the cold. Skiing was invigorating and exhilarating and we never tired of  it.

The time flew during those evenings, made possible by a recreation program the town hosted. For a minimal fee, we purchased season passes, boarded a school bus outside the municipal building after supper at night and traveled the few miles out of town to the mountain.

We wore our heavy ski boots onto the bus, tracking snow and ice into the aisle, and then laid our skis and poles on the back seats in the bus. We plunked ourselves down for the short trip to the mountain, chatting and eager to get out on the slopes.

We skied part way up the mountain via the rope tow, burning holes through our mittens which prompted us the next time to wear not one but two pairs before eventually discovering leather was the way to go. I felt sorry for kids just learning to use the rope tow who, grasping the rope for the first time, were catapulted forward, landing flat on their faces in the snow.

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The T-bar was more user-friendly, though learning how to use it was, literally, a balancing act as we were instructed to lean, not sit on the bar, and let it guide us along, up, up and up the mountain.

The chair lift was the ticket, scooping us up and heaving us to the top of the mountain, though I don’t know that I ever fully trusted it. More than once, I imagined the cable snapping and sending us all flailing to the ground.

Though skiing was a regular nightly and weekend activity during my school years, I skied less frequently after I went off to college, sometimes venturing to Sugarloaf or Saddleback when I returned for vacation.

My skiing days are long gone now, but the memories of those cold nights on the Skowhegan mountain are more poignant as the years go on and we have a winter like this one, where the snow just keeps coming down and down.

Somehow over the years, I managed to let my passion for skiing fall by the wayside, much like my craving for vinegar on fries.

But who knows? They say old habits never die, so maybe I’ll just revisit both one day.

Amy Calder has been a Morning Sentinel reporter 33 years. Her columns appear here Saturdays. She may be reached at [email protected]. For previous Reporting Aside columns, go to centralmaine.com.


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